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Thread: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

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    New Member jonbrisbincreative's Avatar
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    MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    I've been on a MF journey lately. I've had film cameras around all through my adventure in digital and am now a waning Canon user moving toward Micro Four-Thirds for travel and location event photography. There are definitely some things I don't like about the m4/3 sensors although they are extremely capable.

    But I've recently picked up an RB67 and the Sekor C 90 and 180mm lenses. I really enjoy this behemoth. I use it at events for portraiture mainly, though I'm starting to put it to some fine art use. In that vein I've been thinking about MF digital for almost no other reason than the immediate feedback I can get when doing event portraiture where I have to get the portrait with the subject there because I don't have the option to do re-shoots. Even taking several frames with digital I see eyes closed or not looking at the camera, etc... All that's great for the fine art perspective but not what people expect to purchase in a portrait.

    I've been researching used MF digital on this forum and others. Because of my association with Mamiya equipment I've been trying to figure out whether a Leaf back with the RB (or even upgrading to the RZ) would be a step in the right direction for creating a unique look for my photography.

    I don't have time or inclination to try and differentiate myself from other photographers in the subtleties of viewing angle and lighting but end up using the same equipment as every other photographer I come into contact with. I don't plan on quitting my "day job" any time soon so I have no need to feel pressured to take jobs I don't want to do. I'm still working on the part of sticking to my artistic guns in the face of clients who say they want some specific look or some spot retouched out or that sort of thing.

    What I'm really looking for is a "look" from a CCD MF sensor that will work really well with my B&W environmental portrait work. For day-to-day portraits for doing sports and events the Olympus E-M1 is sufficient for what I want to produce. Prints up to 8x10 are great and I've printed them much larger at lower resolutions (like up to 24x36 for an outdoor banner). I don't need something that will compete with this usability and portability. The lenses are great and sharp and there's plenty of low-light capability. But the m4/3 images are not as good as I would like when I do portraiture. I find them okay but pretty lacking in what it is I'm after. So I've been looking at MF digital as a potential gap-filler in this regard.

    I guess some questions I have are:

    - What's the generational cutoff for doing this kind of portable out-of-studio work? Kodak 645M, Leaf Aptus 65, 75, 75s, II 5, II 7, etc...? I probably need to tether for doing high-magnification proofing before I let the subject go in case I need to take more photos. Quality of the back LCD is a helpful thing here but not a deal-breaker.

    - I'm much more interested in the overall look of a RAW file matching my artistic vision than I am in pixel-peeping and basic resolution arguments. What's the megapixel floor that is usable for relatively large prints (very subjective, I know)?

    - What sensor can best produce a RAW file with deep, rich darks and soft highs? I prefer low-key to high-key and I generally expose for the highlights.

    I probably need to stick to an RB/RZ (or maybe Hy6?) approach because I want to shoot both film and digital, sometimes even of the same subject. Being able to swap backs is a huge deal and something I'm more interested in than even AF.

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    iiiNelson's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Would a Phase One IQ260 Apochromatic be out of the question? It's al in the same Phase/Mamiya/Leaf family right?
    Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
    http://www.iiinelsonimages.com

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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Minor correction, that's IQ260 Achromatic.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Senior Member ErikKaffehr's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Hi,

    Tim Ashley has an interesting article about the Achromatic, here: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/0...romatic-backs/

    Long time I read it, but one of the observations was that the sensor is very wide band, covering both UV and IR and it badly needs cut off filtering with most lenses.

    It costs a few €, but I would check it before buying a 30000$ back.

    Best regards
    Erik


    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Would a Phase One IQ260 Apochromatic be out of the question? It's al in the same Phase/Mamiya/Leaf family right?

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    New Member jonbrisbincreative's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Quote Originally Posted by HiredArm View Post
    Would a Phase One IQ260 Apochromatic be out of the question? It's al in the same Phase/Mamiya/Leaf family right?
    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    Minor correction, that's IQ260 Achromatic.
    I gave the Achromatic some consideration, especially since it can record wavelengths beyond visible light as well. But it's too specialized and frankly too expensive for me to consider. I do B&W conversions because I really want the color versions first. I need to be able to do both color and B&W.

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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    With a 6x7 camera you will have a big crop factor on your lenses. Have you considered the Pentax 645Z? You can use it with Hasselblad V-lenses like the excellent 110/2 for portraiture and use a 645N for film. If you want to shoot 6x7 you could use a Pentax 6x7, but then the crop factor problem is back. For portraiture and generally walking around a 645Z just seems like an easier option than a digital back.
    Ofcourse it is not a CCD and you may have to try it to see if you can make the digital files work for you.

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    Senior Member bensonga's Avatar
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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    The Pentax 645D is CCD and prices on used 645Ds have come down a lot since the 645Z was introduced. I've seen many 645D bodies for sale in the $3k to $4k range.

    Dave has one for sale here on GetDPI.
    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/gear-fs-...d-1-owner.html

    Gary

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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    One neat thing about shooting a color back for B&W is channel mixing in post. But monochrome backs have a distinctive look as well.

    I use a p25+ in the studio and it can produce really great images. Not as flexible as more modern backs, but if you are using it at low ISOs, it has rich files. The display has much to be desired and compared with a more modern camera, it is not so great. The menu navigation is clunky. But if you can look passed all that, it makes fine images.

    I think I would prefer the p25+ on a 6x6 or 6x4.5 camera. The RZ is a huge beast and the sensor only takes a fraction of the ground glass. I have my p25+ on a Linhof CS679 and it is not ideal as far as GG focusing. And wides are going to be hard to find in RZ/RB glass.

    I also use a Pentax 645D. Fine camera and certainly a step up from the p25+. Better in the ways you would expect. I enjoy the handling. But the back does not come off.

    I would get your hands on some systems if you have not shot MFD.

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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Executive portrait by Sandeep Murali, on Flickr

    Absolutely love the B&W images I can create with the Credo 40. I prefer to do the toning in DxO filmpack/ Nik Silver effex, though.
    My little corner on the internet.
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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    For B&W the IQ260 Achromat is a stunner. I had one for a couple of months and waited patiently for 10 months to get my hands on it. In comparison to BW conversions from my IQ180, it was much smoother, much better in handling highlights, especially the specular kind, and @60MP was head-to-head in terms of resolution with the 80MP back.

    The "full-spectrum" issue mentioned above is actually a major advantage as you get to decide what you want to filter for. here's an example that was filtering out UV/IR:



    Now this one is with no filter:



    Another plus is the base ISO of 200. This is a handheld 5 image stitch:



    You may wonder why only had it a couple of months. After a couple of days on the DF, I went to use it on my tech cam, and could not find the Live View icon. Ended up opening a ticket with P1, and got an OOPs, we forgot to mention this back does not support LV - not on the back, not tethered, but we might in about 9 months - end of story.

    I could not accept this as response, and I was torn, but did end up returning it. For BW, I don't think anything comes close, as long as you know the limitations.

    My intention was to do BW and IR with it. Without LV, the IR was going to be tricky and I did not want compromises for 40 large.

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    Re: MF digital for B&W environmental portraits and travel

    Epson RD1 is not MF but produces super B&W files and costs less

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